Sara Callahan
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The archive
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The introduction sets up the premises and aims of the book. Modified views of history and knowledge meant that archives were gradually becoming of more interest in different disciplines in the second half of the twentieth century. No longer viewed as a neutral site housing historical documents, the archive instead became a concept and structure that needed to be scrutinised and critiqued in its own right. The introduction situates the surge in archival references in art writing and artistic practice within this broader historical and theoretical context, and formulates the book’s main questions: why is archival terminology used with such frequency in art discourse in the years around the turn of the twenty-first century, and what does this pervasive referencing indicate? These questions feed into the book’s overarching aim of analysing the function and meaning of the concept of the archive in contemporary art c. 1995–2015. The introduction ends with an outline of the book’s structure and summaries of each of its eight chapters.

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Art + Archive

Understanding the archival turn in contemporary art


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